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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    July 28, 2011
    2:00 - 6:00am EDT  

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just yesterday the c.e.o. of nasdaq testified before the judiciary committee and said -- quote -- "the longer the deal, the better it is for the markets." christian cooper, a currency trader, was quoted by bloomberg news this morning saying -- quote -- "from the market's point of view, a two-stage plan is a nonstarter because we know now it is amateur hour on capitol hill, and we don't want to be painted into this corner again." there is a significant risk after downgrade with a deal that ties further cuts to another vote only a few months down the road." unquote. he said it better than any of us could say it, and he's a currency trader. and mohammed al ariad, the c.e.o. of peupl co, one of the most -- pimco one of the most respected investors in the markets and he investors hundreds of billions of dollars.
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mr. moliarian said the other night that -- quote -- "the political ground is being prepared for a short-term stopgap compromise." and he warned that this could push stocks down and leave the u.s. debt rating -- quote -- "extremely exposed to a damaging downgrade." let me again quote mr. aliarian, one of the great experts on our credit markets. what he said is the kind of plan that came over from the house, that is attempting to be debated in the house -- i don't think it will make it over. but the kind of plan being debated in the house would -- quote -- "create an extremely exposed damaging downgrade to our credit to, our nation's debt rating. even republicans rejected a short-term solution in the recent months. it doesn't give you certainty. ideally you'd like to get at
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that settled and mott have to continually -- have it continually hanging over you shall. that's the republican head of the ways and means wheat. house majority canter said, if we can't make the tough decisions now, why would we be making those tough decisions later? i don't see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go. it is my preference we do this thing one time. putting off tough decisions is not what people want in this town -- unquote. that's from majority leader cantor, and yet he's leading the charges to send over the very plan -- the very type of plan he's criticized only a few weeks ago. republicans have pearchtsly flip-flopped on this point. they're now saying they want the same kind of debt ceiling -- short-term debt ceiling increase that they opposed an substantive
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grounds previously. so republicans have flip-flopped on this point, but moik make no mistake about it a short-term zeal still a nonstarter in the senate and nothing more than a glide path to a credit downgrade, and we will not allow it. while republicans continue pushing for on productive plan, senator reid's plan, the senate plan, offers real potential to finally break this impasse t makes difficult choices. it includes almost $1 trillion in domestic discretionary program cuts, including defense. this is sear just belt tightening that have have consequences, good consequences, for years to come. and the plan received a major boost this morning when congress's official scorekeeper confirmed that the first draft cuts more, a lot more, than the boehner plan. according to the congressional
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budget office, the senate draft bill achieves almost $1.3 trillion more in deficit reduction than the boehner plan. let me repeat that. according to c.b.o., the senate draft bill achieves almost $1.3 trillion more in deficit reduction than the boehner plan. the report also affirms that the senate's plan -- the senate plan's $1 trillion in savings from the iraq and afghanistan wars are real. that's c.b.o. saying it. not some democrat who's hoping and praying for an easy fix. this completely undercuts the arguments by republicans who have tried to call these savings a gimmick, even though they included them in their own budget and voted for them only a few months ago. if it was knock their budget -- if it was okay in their budget, it's got to be okay in our budget. you can't just change your mind based on whose budget it is. the substance should matter to some extent.
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plus, since the c.b.o. will only measure the plan's first draft before aofficial plan savings were incorporated into the bill, the final version will achieve even deeper savings when it is filed on the floor. as "politico" reports this morning, "in the battle of budget scores, the senate democratic deficit-reduction bill is the clear winner thus far over an alternative by speaker john boehner." and lastly, senator reid's proposal allows for a joint committee that has the potential to achieve even deeper savings down the road to get our country back on the path to economic growth. all in all, this is an offer that republicans can't refuse. all of the cuts in senator reid's proposal have been supported at one point or another by the republican side. and it meets the two main requirements laid out by the house republicans. first, speaker boehner said the amount of the debt ceiling increase must be matched by the
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amount of spending cuts. our proposal will do just that. second, speaker boehner said that the tax increases must be off the table. well, even though most of us would proofer tax increases -- would prefer tax increases, our proposal includes no revenue raiser whatsoever. we don't want tax increases on the middle class. we want tax increases on the wealthy and elimination of corporate loopholes. and to not have them is a hard decision for many on our side who know that we're going to need to do that for serious debt reduction. so, bottom line: in conclusion we're getting dangerously close to august 2. over and over, democrats have shown a willingness to move in the direction of republicans. it's time for speaker boehner to cut off his extreme republicans that refuse to support even the plan that he crafted to meet their reckless demands. the reid plan is our best route to a compromise, a compromise we
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need soon before the markets mas render a truly ominous result. mr. durbin: madam president, i want to thank my colleague from new york, senator shiewrnlings as well as senator mikulski from maryland for coming to the floor and speaking about the crisis that we faissments the debt ceiling default which will occur in six days if we do not act will have a profound, negative impact on america's standing in the world and our economy at home. it threatens to stifle job creation and to slow down the business growth that we need to get out of this recession. it is the most serious impact you can imagine at a time when we are facing this kind of recession. this debt ceil something being extended or should be extended under a law that was passed in 1939 where we have extended the debt ceiling 89 different times
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-- 55 times under republican presidents, 34 times under democratic presidents -- and virltly evervirtually every pres done it. the president that holds the record for the most debt ceiling extensions in history is ronald reagan. ronald reagan extended the debt ceiling 18 times in his eight years. during that period of time, tripling the national debt. the nat president who holds the next record is president george w. bush, who doubled the national debt in his eight years and raised the debt ceiling nine times. this should have been done and done routinely. many of the members of congress, house and senate, who have come to the floor and said we will never vote to extend the debt ceiling i think are not being honest with the american people. the debt ceiling is paying for things these congressmen and senators voted for. they came to the floor and said, let's go to war. let's stay in war. let's spend $10 billion a month. and the president said, that was congress's decision.
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now i have to borrow the money to keep that promise. and these members of congress are saying, oh, no. we don't want to have any fingerprints on the debt ceiling extension. you can't have it both ways. members of congress cannot ask for spending and then fault the president when he has to borrow money to make it happen. that's exactly what they're doing. the president has tried to work out a bipartisan agreement to deal with this debt ceiling crisis. he invited in republicans and democratic leaders, with vice president biden, to sit down and work out an agreement, a bipartisan agreement. about four weeks ago the house republican majority leader eric cantor of virginia stood up and walked out. he said, i'm walking away from these bipartisan negotiations. i'm noting about to be party to them. leave it up to speaker boehner. speaker boehner then went into negotiations with president obama, talking behind the scenes about ways to resolve this. that was a positive thing.
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but then he announced, he was walk #-g away from negotiations -- not once but twice, most recently last friday. monday night, television sets around america are tuned in as the president of the united states explains this crisis and then speaker boehner explains his point of view. speaker boehner said monday night he had a plan, a plan that would solve this crisis in a responsible way. that was monday night. but then came tuesday, and as the dawn came on tuesday morning and people took a close look at boehner plan, here's what they found: they found that business leaders across america are saying it was a terrible idea. the idea after six-month extension to the debt ceiling and going through this mess again and again would harm our economy. and then the congressional budget office took a look at the boehner plan. they talked about monday night and they said it doesn't add up. it doesn't cut the spending that speaker boehner said it would.
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and then finally, 100 members of speaker boehner's republican caucus walked out on him yesterday saying it was a bad plan. so here we are. six days away from a deadline, six days away from a manufactured political crisis. it's time to do the right thing. senate majority leader harry reid has a proposal which addresses this responsibly. it cuts spending and it's already been scored, has it not, by the congressional budget office, and it turns out that unlike speaker boehner's plan, senate majority leader's harry reid's plan does in fact cut spending to move us towards a balanced situation. secondly, it extends this beyond the next election, beyond the next year so we don't put our fragile and weak economy through this again and again and again. that's a sensible thing. it also calls for the creation of a joint committee to deal with the long-term deficit. i've been involved in this
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conversation with the deficit commission, and again with the gang of six. we can do this on a bipartisan basis if we are honest and open with own another. and majority leader reid lead us in that dregs. so, madam president, we face a deadline six days from today. the boehner plan of monday night has disintergreated before our eyes. it has been rejected by business leaders. it has been rejected by the congressional budget office. it's been rejected by the house republican caucus. it is time for a little humility on both sides of the aisle from both parties. let's put all this squabbling aside. let's focus on america's economy, putting people to work, saving businesses, and handing our debt in a responsible way. we can do it. we can do it in we stop listening to the political extremists and start dealing with the center of america which calls for leadership and wantim. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. mccain: madam president, as the senator from illinois just pointed out, today we are six days away from a possible default which could plunge this country into a serious crisis. in fact, there are some who view that maybe it is not exactly six days. it could be a few days more. there are those that argue somehow in a bizarre fashion that somehow we could prioritize our payments to the most urgent requirements, such as our veterans, such as social security. others -- i wonder if the greek government came up with that same proposal as they went into bankruptcy that they would prioritize spending that's remaining? but the point is -- the point is, today we are six days away.
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the point is the markets are jittery. investors are concerned, and, most importantly, our constituentconstituents -- our s are frustrated, they're confused, and they're angry. today on the front page of "usa today," there's a headline that says, "the debt: what americans think about the political debate." and it goes on to say, "just get it done. work it out." another person says, "i'm sick of it." says davis, 73, a retired economist. "they're playing games. here we're trying to pull ourselves out of recession and they can't come to an agreement." if anyone thinks that the reputation and the approval rating of congress and the presidency has improved because
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during this situation that we find ourselves in, then obviously they are out of touch with their constituents and the american people. not only are the american people concerned, not only are the american people upset, but i quote and ask to be made part of the record an article from this morning's paper, "the washington post" that says "frustrated executives say political impasse slows hiring and investing. business leaders are growing exasperated with washington and say the dysfunction within the political system is holding them back from hiring and investing." so where we are is average american citizens are worried. social security recipients are, are entitled, are calling our
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offices, and the markets are already jittery. there is most economists believe that if we allow this deadline to pass that we will see a cratering of the financial markets, which obviously has significant impact on savings, on people's holdings in the stock market, 401(k)s, et cetera. and meanwhile, meanwhile here we are with a situation that over on the other side of the capitol our republican friends are trying to come up with a proposal that will receive the support of their majority, and over here we have individuals who believe somehow that there is still a chance, at least in this congress, to pass a
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balanced budget amendment to the constitution. now, i will take back seat to none in my support of the balanced budget amendment to the constitution. 13 times i have voted for it. i will vote for it tomorrow. but what is really amazing about this is that some, some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution in this body with its present representation, and that is foolish. that is worse than foolish. that is deceiving. many of our constituents, by telling them that just because the majority leader tabled the balanced budget amendment legislation, that somehow through amending and debate, we could somehow convince the majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment of the
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constitution. that is not fair. that is not fair to the american people, to hold out and say we won't agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. it's unfair, it's bizarro. and maybe some people have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. others know better. others know better. i am confident, one, someday we will pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. i am confident that the overwhelming majority of the american people support it. three, i am convinced that that is the only way that at the end of the day we will get spending under control, because i have seen in the past congress enacting very strong restrictions on spending, such as the gramm-rudman legislation, which required spending cuts
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with increases in spending, and all of them failed because congresses cannot bind future congresses. and that's why i remain committed to a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. but to somehow think or tell our citizens that if we have enough debate and amendment here in the senate in the short term in the next six days that we will pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution is unfair to our constituents. it's unfair to our constituents, frankly, to come up with a plan, so-called reid plan, that full of smoke and mirrors and, frankly, does not entail any increase, real spending cuts. it's unfair of the president of the united states to lead from behind. it's unfair of the president of the united states not to come forward with a specific plan
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that perhaps could be considered by both bodies, but only to go out and give lectures and act in as partisan a fashion as i have seen in his addresses to the american people. so no wonder, no wonder the american people's approval ratings of the president and of congress are literally at all-time lows. so i want to talk for just a second, for a minute about a editorial in the "wall street journal" this morning. the "wall street journal" is not known to be a, especially on its editorial page, a liberal periodical. it's entitled "the g.o.p.'s reality test." it talks about the debt limit is heading toward a culmination with president obama reduced to pleading to the public to support a tax increase and speaker john boehner and senate
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majority leader harry reid releasing competing plans that are the next to last realistic options. the question now is whether house republicans are going to help mr. boehner achieve significant progress or in the name of the unachievable hand mr. obama a victory. mr. obama recognizes these stakes, threatening yesterday to veto the boehner plan in a tactical move to block any democratic support." and it goes on and talks about, this editorial, about the two-phase boehner plan. congress would authorize a trade in new debt in return for $1.2 trillion. it has since been scored by the c.b.o., and now i believe that on the house side they are struggling, and i hope will succeed, in coming up with a proposal that will authorize the cuts that we have advertised. but i go on to read, "unless the
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plan passed, mr. obama couldn't request the additional $1.6 trillion debt ceiling increase that he would soon need. the political incentive is for a reasonable package, and many senate democrats also don't want to vote for tax increases before 2012." it talks about the critics, about people putting out statements, telling republicans, telling the speaker to come up with a better solution. usually sensible club for growth inherited action, the political arm of the heritaging foundation are scoring a point for the boehner plan. but what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy. none of these critics have an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as the boehner plan. the idea seems to be if the
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house g.o.p. refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensaourbgs and the -- will ensue and the public will turn en masse against barack obama. the republican house failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow skate ball the claim. then democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea party hobbits could return to middle earth. this is the kind of crack political thinking that turn sharron angle and christine o'donnell into g.o.p. nominees. the reality is the debt limit will be raised one way or another. the only question now is how much fiscal reform and what political fallout. if the boehner plan fails in the house, the advantage shifts to mr. reid's senate plan which would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion in one swoop through 2012.
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that would come without a tax increase, but also $2.7 trillion in mostly fake spending cuts, like less government waste, fraud, and abuse. how many times have we heard that we're going to cut waste, fraud and abuse? and a $1 trillion savings from troop drawdowns in iraq and afghanistan that are already built into the baseline. as fiscal reform, this is worse than mr. boehner's plan. the speaker's made mistakes in his debt negotiations, not least in trusting that mr. obama wants serious fiscal reforms. but thanks to the president's overreaching on taxes, mr. boehner now has the g.o.p. position inside of a political and policy victory. if his plan or something close to it becomes law, democrats will have conceded more spending cuts than they thought possible and without getting the g.o.p. to raise taxes and without being able to blame republicans for a debt limit crackup or economic
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damage. if conservatives defeat the boehner plan they will not only undermine their house majority, they will go far to reelecting mr. obama and making entitlements that much harder to reform. let me say again i believe that the plan crafted by senator mcconnell that would call for significant cuts in spending, which would not have raises in taxes, would in the short term be the most reasonable solution. i hope that on both sides of the aisle we could work together and negotiate a way through that. but i also think the much dried by some -- derided by some idea of a committee composed of members of congress -- of members of congress only -- from both sides of the aisle, from both sides of the capitol to sit down and work out a long-term solution to our fiscal
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calamities that we are facing, and those results, and those recommendations by that committee be subject to an up-or-down vote only is the only way we can go. how many times have we had a budget resolution that tasked the various committees to come up with savings and always those savings are phony or they're dismantled on the floor of the senate? the only way that we are going to make the, have the courage to make these cuts is with a committee composed of equal number of republicans and democrats on both sides of the capitol who come up with tough, tough measures that need to be taken. i believe that the american people will support it. and if it is not an up-or-down vote, we know what happens around here.
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let's be honest, shr*ets some -- let's have some straight talk, the special interests prevail and they would dismantle the tough provisions this committee would come up with. and i say to my friends on this side of the aisle, this is a balanced, republican and democrat. we only control one-third of the government, and that's the house of representatives. so it seems to me a balanced, equal representation is to our advantage. i just want to say a word again about the reid plan. first of all, i congratulate the majority leader for coming up with a plan, because certainly the president hasn't. spectrum auction is part of it. that's going to provide billions of dollars. i've been in this body for a considerable period of time. i can't tell you the number of times we have called for auctions of spectrum. it's an annual basis, a copout
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that prevents us from making tough decisions. most egregiously, the majority leader's plan provides $1 billion to pay television broadcasters who return unused television broadcast spectrum. a television broadcaster got the spectrum for free. now we're supposed to ask the taxpayers to give them $1 billion to give back the spectrum that they owe that, they own. and then a -- very interestingly savings in freddy mac and fannie mae. $30 billion in freddie mac and fannie mae reforms. i would point out we've already spent $150 billion on fannie mae and freddie mac that we have never seen the end of. and then of course the large claim that there's $1 trillion in savings from winding down the
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wars in iraq and afghanistan, and of course that is phony. everybody knows that we are winding down the war in afghanistan and iraq. so, here we are six days away, six days waerbgs and we -- six days away, and we still have members of congress saying we have to pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. we have members on the other side who are saying that we have to raise taxes. we have a president of the united states who so far has refused to come forward with a detailed plan of his own. that's called leading from behind. it's time, it's time we listened to the markets. it's time we listened to our constituents. but most of all, it's time we listened to the american people and sit down and seriously negotiate something before we
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face a situation where we are depriving the american people of the fundamental right of having a government that doesn't deprive them the essential services, goods and entitlements which they have earned.objectio. cork coirkd objection. mr. corker: madam president, i'm here today with a sense of optimism. i know that all of us are very concerned about what's happening in our country, the debt ceiling. i know we're getting lots of calls from constituents. but i want to say that i think we've made remarkable progress over the last couple of weeks. i mean, if you think about just a couple weeks ago, people were crafting legislation for sort after a political vote, if you will, and i understand that. but here we are today. we actually have the leader of the united states senate, a democrat, who has proposed a bill that has to do with
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spending. the republican leader of the house has introduced a bill that has to do with spending. and, candidly, i'm kind of uplifted. we're finally on the right topic now, and you know, candidly, to use it a cloa colloquial term fm tennessee, we're learning to cook with gas. people are focused on the right issue. so, madam president, i want to say that, look, we've all talked about this august 2 date. we've talked about the fact that, you know, our debt ceiling has to be raised by thefnlt and certainly there are a lost ambiguities in the financial markets right now. a lot have been watching the treasury department and think the treasury department has actually made some ways of causing that to last a little bit longer. but i think one thing we can all agree to in this body at present, we do have until august 2. i think everybody would agree
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that -- some people think we have longer. i think the one thing that almost everyone would agree with in this body that we have until august 2 to solve this problem, and i hope we'll do so. the other thing, madam president, that's becoming part of sort of the, i think, the mantra and the understanding throughout our country is that we -- many of the financial markets, the people that actually buy our treasury as, they're now not as concerned about the debt ceiling -- they want it raised; don't get me wrong. we all understand that august 2 is the date that we have until to do that. but now they're more concerned about the fact that we may raise the debt ceiling and not actually do those things that we need to do to actually get our deficits in order. and many of them -- first of all we have the rating agencies that are saying if we don't get at least $4 trillion in savings in some form or fashion, then some
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of they wil them are going to de us. i'm on the banking committee. our folks are constantly talking with folks who buy treasuries much the actual purchasers of these treasuries are now telling us and our office that if we don't do something that at least shows $4 trillion in savings, then they believe we're -- we don't have the political will to do those things to cause our country to be as worthy of a borrower and that we're going to be paying more in the way of rates. so the second point i'd like to makers madam president, is we have a proposal on the floor. i personally -- and i may catch some grief back home for saying this, but i think senator reid has actually tried to put something forth to help solve this problem. i think he's been working closely with senator mcconnell on that. i think senator boehner -- i know he has a different set of
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circumstances -- is trying to solve this problem. but here's the point: we're at a point place where we're now actually talking about the right top tyke and we now know if we don't put forth a solution that is at least $4 trillion in the order of magnitude that we're going to be downgraded. it seems to me that people that on the other side of the aisle, my democrat friends would not want to support a proposal that extends the debt ceiling that is less than $4 trillion because their president would be presiding over a country that was downgraded while he was president. and it seems to me that republicans who have worked hard to press this issue -- and everybody has gone through tremendous acrimony and certainly people who are watching this are incredibly frustrated and angry -- it seems to me that republicans who are on the verge of potentially being able to craft something
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that actually solves this problem would not either want to support something that's less than $4 trillion. as a matter of fact, i would make this staivment i think it's true. anybody that votes for a package in this body to address the debt ceiling and our deficit simultaneously that isn't of the order of magnitude that's real and scorable -- those are two different definitions, real and scorable -- is actually voting for a package that likely causes our country to be downgraded. so here's what i would say. we got senator reid who's offered a proposal. they've scored it, i think, at, like $800 billion. i know it skas $3 trillion. senator boehner has offered a package and he, too, has had some scoring issues with his package. it seems to me that all of us in this body should be pressing the leaders on both sides of the
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aisle to at least present a scorable package that's scorable and real in the area of $4 trillion - or -- depending on wt you decided to do in that package -- if you voted t for a package that was less than that you'd be casting a vote to raise the debt ceiling but at the same time probably cast our country into a situation where we're downgraded. and that doesn't make any sense toto me. so, madam president, we have six days left. i know that people back home are nervous. i did a teletown last night. we had thousands of people on the call. people are angry that we've waited this long to get serious about this issue. they're concerned about social security checks, disability checks, veterans checks. i understand that. i empathize with them. but we haven't quite finished our work. and we actually are on the right topic finally. and again, senator reid has
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offered a proposal. the house has offered a proposal. neither one of them are strong enough. and, madam president, for what it's worth -- i know you know this -- but i'm talking to people on both sides of the aisle. and people i think are reading what the markets are doing and becoming increasingly concerned about considering voting for a package. i know the presiding officer comes from the center of the university auniverse as it relae issues. people are rising up. there are a lot of private phone calls that are taking place. people are saying, wait a second. let's think about this. the markets -- which matter by the way -- are now saying to us, they know we're going to deal with the debt ceiling and i know we are -- they know we're going to deal with the debt ceilin cey the time we have to. but now they think we're not going to do something that's actually the real solution. so i'm here today to talking to my friends on both sides of the tile say, let's communicate with
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our leadership and say we've got six days left. we've got an opportunity to do something -- we've all been saying this -- that really does rise to the seminal moment that we actually solve this problem. this is not a republican issue, it is not a democratic issue. it is something that is going to affect everybody in our cufnlt and we're finally, after all of this time, focused on the right subject matter. i mean, we really are. and so i just met with a group of senators. i'm going to meet with another group of senators in a little while. let's make sure that our leadership -- and let's make sure on both size size sides ofs capitol -- understand that we believe that voting for a package that is less than $4 trillion in savings over this next decade -- that's real and scorable -- really isn't getting the job done. now, madam president, i would assume that -- i know that senator reid's approach has been
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to do it all at once. maybe there is a way to craft a package between nods and next tuesday that people are vote on that has $4 trillion in real savings. i think that might be difficult, but maybe something is happening behind closed doors that we're not aware of. i think it's -- i know that on the other side of the building people are concerned about -- well, actually on the other side of the building they're looking for a short-term stefntle and i know the president has been concerned candidly about a short-term extension. in fairness, i think the business community around our country would be concerned about a long short-term extension. in other words, one that carries out months and months and months and we still don't have a solution to this problem. i understand that creates the kind of uncertainty that many of the people on my side of the aisle and candidly people on the other side of the aisle to some degree have talked about as it relates to the business environment. so, madam president, sure, i'd
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love to vote for something that solved this problem and does it all in the front end. but i assume that our leadersh leadership, knowing the acrimony that's taking place -- but at least we're on the right subject matter finally -- the acrimony that's taking place, u.a.e.ssume that theu.a.e. dishassume that e really, really short-term snengs their back pocket. that to the extent we don't come to this conclusion by next tuesday, they're trod pull out and they know that it's something that can actually pass both bodies. madam president, again, i think we're so close now because we're finally focused on the right thing. i think we're close it getting to something that solves our country's problems for a while, causes people around the world and the country to know that
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we're actuallying with willing -- have the will and have the courage to deal with these issues and at the same time addresses the debt ceiling. should we not quite get there, should we not quite gleet by thi--should we not quite get thy this tuesday and we've two groups of people, i would assume that you are a leadership -- they understand what's at stake here -- has in their back pockets a very short-term extension that can be used as a bridge to the kind of solution that maybe takes us to a place that we can all agree helps solve our country's problems. madam president, i've heard people have been coming down to the floor back and forth and criticizing each side of the aisle. i'm actually more optimistic today -- i'm not over the top. but i'm more hopeful than i was two weeks ago when we weren't even focused on the right issues, at that time focused on casting blame, and now what we
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have is both bodies looking at packages to actually address the deficit that we have before us. madam president, i hope that people on both sides of the aisle will talk to leadership, will let them know that they have no desire to support something that doesn't solve the problem with all that we've gone through as a country and as a body over the course of the last couple of months. and i'm hopeful that we'll figure out a solution that actually meets that test -- in other words, avoids the crisis on tuesday -- and at the same time avoids the crisis that will occur if people look at our country as a downgraded entity because we haven't shown that we're willing to at least deal with $4 trillion. you know, i think most people know i'd like to do a lot more than that, and i offered a bill that was bipartisan that did a lot more than that. but i think we all now know that
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baked in, baked into the expectations about where our country is today is the fact that it's got to be a minimum of $4 trillion. and i think a lot of people have worked towards that goal. to even set up a process that's short of that doesn't make any sense to me. it's kind of like you've got to be kidding me. we've got to go through the aggravation of the next six months working towards an aspirational goal that we all know doesn't solve the credit rating issue. so with that, madam president, i thank you for the time. i yield the floor. i hope that we come to a successful conclusion soon. i stand ready and am talking with people on both sides of the aisle to try to come up with a solution so that we either solve this on the front end or put in place a process, a very quick process that takes us to a place that we know we've actually dealt with the problem. with that, i yield the ask that
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the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from kansas. mr. moran: madam president, thank you very much. i've spoken several times over the last several weeks in regard to the issue at hand, and clearly the time continues to escape us in which the day of reckoning is coming in regard to the debt ceiling issue. and i've said from the very beginning that in my view it would be irresponsible not to raise the debt ceiling, but it would be as irresponsible if not more so, to raise the debt ceiling without reducing the spending, getting our books more in balance and moving us in the right direction toward a balanced budget in the future. i recognize that this can't be accomplished overnight, and i recognize that there are those who bring different points of view and perspective to the senate floor. this is a body of people who represent individuals who live in all 50 states and have points of view and philosophies and
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background that are different than perhaps the constituents that i represent from the state of kansas. i've been a strong supporter of the legislation entitled cut, cap, and balance, and i actually believe that it's not just cut, cap, and balance. it's cut, cap, balance and grow that we could do so much for our country both in the fiscal sense -- the idea that we can better pay our bills if the revenues are increased by putting people to work, by creating an economic climate in which people can find jobs, people can improve their situation in regard to their job, and in the process of doing that the revenues increase to the federal treasury. it was back in the days of president clinton in which we came the closest to having our books balanced the most recent time. and while there was spending restraint and disagreement among republicans and democrats about new spending programs or bigger government, in my view, the real reason we had a balanced budget
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was because the economy was growing. and so i again ask my colleagues to pay attention to the message what i believe was of the 2010 election. it's the economy. it's the desire for people to have a better life to, save money for their children's education, to save money for their retirement and to be able to be satisfied that the job they have today is and i believe there's a number of things we can do with regard to the regulatory environment, tax code fair and certain, a trade policy that allows to us increase exports both agriculture and manufactured goods and an energy policy that reduces our reliance upon foreign energy and gives us greater control over its costs. but i do believe that the time has come for us to reach an agreement and we anxiously await what action the house of representatives may take. and in light of the point in time that we're in, i wanted to share with my colleagues in the
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senate a letter, an email i received from one of my constituents, a kansan named gina reynolds. gina is from shawnee and she expresses this point of view i think very appropriately for where we are today. and in asking gina if i could share with you what she wrote to me, she indicated this was the very first time she had ever written a member of congress. and here's what she had to say that i hope we will take into account. and again, while we bring philosophies and viewpoints, approaches to government to washington, d.c., in my view, there's an opportunity for common sense and good judgment to prevail. here's what she says. i firmly believe that the united states needs to start living within our means. however, i am frustrated beyond belief with the inability of congress to do their jobs and ensure that we do not throw the country back into recession. while i and my husband are employed, we feel lucky to have
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jobs. we work hard, pay our taxes and try to raise our children the right way. it absolutely boggles my mind we cannot come to a compromise on the dlng debt ceiling issue that is so critical to the financial markets and the average american citizen. for it is us, the middle class, that will suffer the most. from lost jobs to lost 401(k)'s and lost savings. we need real tax reform, real entitlement form for even though i am 42 years old i do not believe i will ever see a dime of social security and real spending cuts. congress has had months to work on this issue and now the time is to act in the best interests of the people, not for the political interest groups and not for some ideology. it is sad to say but i honestly don't know if my children will have a better future than me. i know that there are a lot of tough decisions yet to be made regarding spending and taxes, but we only make it harder by defaulting on our country's
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obligations. i am fiscally conservative and generally vote republican but i do not blindly follow any one path. i try to use my vote wisely and pledge my loyalty to my god and my country, not a political party. i believe we have the greatest country on earth, but our inability to compromise, to stop acting like spoiled children saddens me. the founding fathers were able to compromise and write a document that has stood the test of time for 235 years. can we not now do the same? please do the right thing for the american people, the ones frustrated and angry and hurt by the self-produced impasse. i want to thank gina reynolds for her message to me and members of the senate for taking the time to communicate with her united states senator, with me as a member of congress. and i think she in many ways expresses a conservative yet common sense point of view that so many kansans have and i often
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think that we often -- i often think too many times we are caught in a circumstance that we find an inability to resolve. sometimes we are trapped by our political party and that in my view while we ought to have strong opinions and ought to have a solid philosophy, we need to make certain we're motivated for the right reasons and the good of america is at the forefront of our minds. i indicated in my maiden speech when i first spoke on the senate floor here now four months ago, as a new united states senator, that when i need a prospective as to what we need to do here and sometimes we get bogged down in those things that are a lot less important, i'll put my walking shoes on, my running shoes and i'll walk up to the lincoln memorial and now you go by the world war ii memorial, you walk on past the vietnam wall, and you walk back by the korean war memorial. and in each one of those locations i am reminded no
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american memorialized in those settings fought and decide dyed, sacrificed for their country for purposes of republicans or democrats but because they believe they had an obligation to serve our country and because they believe that in that service they had the opportunity to make life better for their family and for future generations of americans. we need to remind ourselves, we need that perspective that it's not the fight between republicans and democrats, it's about doing the right thing for america. we owe our -- those who sacrificed in military service for our country and particularly those who died in this service that kind of obligation that we will do what is right. and i know my colleagues share that point of view. i think from time to time we need to be remind what had the focus must be and so, madam president, i again appreciate the sentiments expressed by this kansan, and i would indicate that we as american citizens and certainly me as a member of the
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united states senate, our primary responsibility as citizens is to make certain that we pass on to the next generation of americans this country called the united states of america in which we maintain the freedoms and liberties guaranteed by our constitution and that we allow the next generation of americans, our children, our grandchildren, and young men and women yet to be born, people we don't even know, the opportunity to pursue the american dream. and i think this kansas constituent of mine has expressed those sentiments very well and i look forward to working with my colleagues to see that we dolt right thing for the future of our nation and that the next generation of americans can also pursue the thing we all idolize and believe in: the american dream. i yield back, madam president. mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: let me first of all compliment my friend and colleague, the senator from
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kansas, for his comments and for his approach. he made a few comments there that we haven't heard enough of in this chamber or in the other chamber in the last few days. he said that before he was a democrat or before he was a republican, he was an american. i want to compliment him on those sentiments and i want to rise in that same vein because whether you're somebody from kansas, somebody from north carolina, or the folks i hear from in virginia, they keep saying, why can't you guys get this thing done? why can't you both be willing to give a little to put our country first? i never thought i'd say, as somebody who had the honor of serving as governor of virginia and somebody who served -- was a business guy for 20 years, i never thought i'd be standing on
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the floor of the senate six days, five and a half days away from the united states of america potentially defaulting on our obligations. and yet most of the debate -- lord knows, almost all of the press conferences -- have less been about solutions and more been about who's to blame. folks in the gallery, people watching at home, or like most americans trying to get through an unbearably hot summer, you wonder who are these folks that we hired to get the people's business done. you know, i have been involved with a group of senators, and i want to -- over the last nine months that have done something that i didn't think was
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extraordinary but unfortunately in today's day and life is pretty extraordinary. a group of democratic and republican senators who said, the most important issue we face in our country is to try to get our debt and deficit under control and who've said the only way that we can get that under control is to sit together for hours on end, reason together, argue, do something that's perhaps i think basically as american as compromise. and after months and months of back and forth and then last tuesday when we revealed that so-called plan -- which frankly the gang of six, which was built upon the work of a previous year of work of democrats and republicans and independents and business leaders, the president's deficit commission -- a remarkable thing happened for a couple of days in this body. instead of everybody coming out and saying why this couldn't happen, they said, hey, it isn't
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perfect but this actually would lower our deficit by close to $4 trillion, take on tax reform, take on entitlement reform, cut spending, and might just be a path out. well, that lasted a couple days and then we got back to who was going to score points in the next 24-hour news segment. well, i desperately hope and pray that at this moment in our country that we will rise to the task and make sure that with the eyes not of the nation but of the world on us that we do our basic job to make sure the united states of america doesn't default next tuesday. the only way i think we're going to get there is if we lower the rhetoric, lower the fingerpointsing, recognizing it's going to take ideas from both sides.
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but it is going to take a change in attitude from some. there was a congressman who gave a press conference sometime in the last day or two who quoted -- paraphrased winston churchill. and i said, we're going to fight you on the beaches, we're going to fight on the sea, we're going it fight you in the air to make structural changes in the way the place known as washington, d.c., operates. who is the "you" he's going to fight? he's going to fight people that say maybe america and americans want us to actually work together and compromise? i mean, this kind eve of sentimt goes beyond the pale at a moment when our nation is in this kind of crisis. there's been a lot of talk recently, especially coming from the other body, about the only
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way to solve this problem is an amendment, a constitutional amendment. well, i'd point out that 49 states got that kind of amendment, you got to balance your books. my state of virginia, the presiding officer officer's state, north carolina. there are an awful lot of states that have got that kind of amendment in place, and i don't know what kind of accounting they use, but i've not heard many folks point to california's state budget and say, that's a balanced budget. so some kind of process argument here isn't going to solve the problem. we've got to make the hard choices. we got to cut spending. we got to reform our entitlements. we got to reform our tax code, generate additional revenues. the numbers don't lie. we're spend at an all-time high. 25% of our g.d.p. -- we're collecting revenues at an historic low, 16% of g.d.p. it doesn't take a rocket
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scientist to figure out that anytime our nation's budget has been in relative bug, it's been when we've been roughly between spend and revenues between 19% and 20.5%. why can't we come together to put plan in place that does that? folks who are watching say there actually i is a plan that more than a third of the senate says we'll be with you. instead we're going back and forth, ping-pong, who's going to have which plan, who's glg to win each day? it's also pretty remarkable that the moment of time -- i don't know who this congressman is or what his particular issue is, but when you've got roughly a fifth of the house who say they're on record that they will never vote to increase the debt, i wonder when they took the oath to uphold the laws of our country which say we've got to
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pay our bills, how that commitment matches with those promises? or that's political positions? my sense is if they want to have an amendment to the constitution, what they are advocating -- this we will never change, our way or the highway approach -- the amendment they ought to be talking about is basically restructuring our whole constitution and turning our government into a parliamentary system. there are a lost places around. if you win an election, you get to choose the chief executive, you get to control the legislature, you can path anything you want. yet these very same folks are the ones who say, we want to support our constitution. well, the constitution and the genius of our constitution was the fact that the founders said the most basic american principle was checks and balances. you got a house, you got a senate. you got a president. and actually they got to work together.
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somehow th the attitude again of some of these members in the house, which is our way or let's drive our country over the cli cliff, is as dramatically un-american as anything i've ever seen. and at the same time we hear other members who say, well, maybe we just need a little more economic shock to make us do the right thing. what are these folks thinking of? the stock market closed down 200 points today. it's been down about 400 points this week. an awful lot of americans who only now are starting to recover from the financial crisis of two years ago. an awful lot of retirees who saw their 401(k)'s plummet two years ago that slowly have seen that
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nest egg that's going to get them through retirement or rough times recover. we're down 400 points. how much more stock market decline do we need before we all have the cover to do the right thing? 1,000 points? we need to put another million americans out of work? do we need to throw more people out of their homes because of the tax increase that will result, the real increase that will result with a rise in interest rates that'll happen next week? and there are others who say, well, let's just do short-term, let's kick the can down for a short while. something is being discussed in the house -- i -- doesn't matter whether it is democrat or republican. it matters because that approach will result in a lowering of our debt rating. i know people's eyes glaze over when you hear about debt
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ratings. there are other countries in the world with a aaa debt rating. that means that we are kind of the gold standard. we have that debt rating reduced, it is not only a black eye for america, it not only means that what we have to pay in interest rates will go up, not just the government, but if you got a school bond, a state bond, those are going to go up, you got an auto loan, a home mortgage, a student loan, you are a business trying to expand your business, the cost of that is all going to go up. the very same folks who say, well, we will never look at more revenues, don't seem to mind at all that if we have to have an interest rate rise because of a default or a downgrade of our debt, doesn't that take more money out of our americans' pockets? i just don't get it.
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so i do hope and frankly i -- the presiding officer knows i've been pretty obsessed about this issue for months on end. i do hope that we will check our democrat and republican hats. i agree with what my colleague, the senator from kansas said. when we get out of bed tomorrow, we get out of bed not as democrats and republicans, as americans first. we not only get over the debt limit, which hopefully through some convoluted process we will, but we also recognize that getting past august 2 doesn't mean, okay, we're done. everybody go have a nice august. all that does is buy us a bit of time to decide whether we're going to come back to the really hard issues of not only how we start with some spending cuts -- which will be part of our down payment -- but how we really make sure that the entitlement
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programs -- so many of us on both sides of the aisle but particularly on this side the aisle want to protect. but they're actually there 10, 20, 30 years from now. the notion that they're not going to change, aren't -- cannot be continued to be sustainable. it is not democrat, republican. it is just the fact that thank goodness a lot of us are living a lot longer. the fact remains when i was a kid sthr-rp 16 -- there were 16, 17 people paying in for social security retirement. now there are three. we've got to make sure your kids, my kids, that there is social security in its framework. at the same time we've got to have our colleagues on the republican side recognize that you've got to reform our tax code in a way that makes it simpler, flatter and, yes, generates some additional
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revenue. the only way we're going to get there if and when we get past this august 2 date is if we combine that effort with a long-term debt reduction. i am more than open to any valid, balanced, comprehensive bipartisan plan that's around. the effort that the so-called gang of six, or the third of the senate that said, hey, yeah, this is worth considering isn't perfect. i can assure. some will even say some of the prescriptions i made, it might not meet all of those. i'll tell you three things it is: it is comprehensive, it's bipartisan. and under any analysis, it does what our country desperately needs: starts to drive our debt to g.d.p. ratio, which is a fancy way of saying can we maintain our books on a path to lead to fiscal stability.
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frankly, what that would also allow to us do is to get back to what we should be spending our time on here, which is creating growth in this economy. start unleashing american creativity and innovation again. but that's not going to happen if we spend all our time going back and forth about how we got here, which short-term plan best meets the short-term interest of the next five or six days. i, for one, believe the plan that senator reid's laid out is not perfect, but it gives us the time to deal with this debt and deficit problem in a serious way. it gives us the ability not to ensure -- to ensure that we don't have a debt downgrade.
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the plan that's being, unfortunately, debated in the house right now, it may have some errors. but the one thing that is clear is is that it will lead to a downgrade. not my words. but all the rating agencies, whether we like them or not, they are the folks who set that standard. so i would urge again the folks who are making statements that say we're going to fight you on the beaches, we're going to fight you at sea, we're going to fight you in the air, to use your fellow americans here and if you don't like our system of government, be honest and propose a change but change the parliamentary system. if you do honor the constitution which we said we'll uphold recognize that is a constitution that puts in place checks and balances to have us all give a little and recognize when we get out of bed in the morning we're not a democrat or republican, but an american first and
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foremost. mr. president, i hope and pray that we will find the path through these next five days, that we won't do the unthinkable. i've said on a couple of stations -- i'm sure it will come back and bite me -- that we don't do this, we should all get fired. because the fact is the most basic promise we make is to uphold the laws and rules of our country. and, frankly, i can't think of anything that's more quintessentially american than making sure you pay your bills and you honor your obligations. so let's get that done and then let's work together make sure we put in plan the long-term comprehensive bipartisan approach that's needed so that we can get this nation back on the right fiscal path. but more importantly, back on the right path to ensure that everybody gets that fair shot and that economic growth that we
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all seek so much. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding offffffffffffffffw
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